I wanted to read Strangers on a Train because I love the noir film classic based on this book. It was interesting because Patricia Highsmith is a master at painting the slow downward spiral, the menace in the every-day, and the grim experience of late stage alcoholism (note to self: it does not look like fun). But it needs editing. The same scenes repeat themselves too often and the protagonist goes over the same ground and comes to the same decisions over and over again. The book just doesn't get down to business and go where it's going. By the end I was weary enough of the story that I didn't much care how it came out.
I didn't care for Bronson Pinchot's reading. In trying to produce southern accents he made the southerners sound bored - not southern. Also, he used a particular lilting drag for the bad guy, the faithful woman, and the private eye. These are all very different characters who should have to some extent their own voices, or at least not the same odd drawn-out way of speaking that makes them blend together. And I wish men readers would just read women's voices normally - Pinchot, like some other men I've heard, tries to make it clear this is a female voice by making it breathy or whiny. The female voices were annoying.
I am a middle class white lady with a most ordinary middle class white life behind me, and yet I found myself utterly landed in the experience of this young Bengaladeshi woman uprooted to an American marriage in Rochester New York. Almost nothing that happens in this book has ever happened to me, and yet it all seemed startlingly recognizable. I have not read Nell Freudenberger before but now I will seek out more of her books.
I liked the reading by Mozhan Marno: she kept it straightforward and simple and slipped easily into the gentle lilt of Bengaladeshi accents when called for.
This should have been a good book and the first 14 hours really were, with an interesting villain and some political & social maneuverings by old friends from the earlier Palliser novels. But honestly, everything was settled and finished after 14 hours, and there 7 hours left to go. Trollope's heroines do sometimes get tedious with their insistence on morbid self-punishment but this heroine takes the cake. She goes on and on until no one in the book cares any longer what happens to her and we readers stopped caring way before that. It seems like Trollope couldn't stop dragging it out. Indeed, the book doesn't really end. It just peters away from exhaustion.
That said, Simon Vance does a great reading. He has a deep and delicious voice perfect for Victorian novels, and distinguishes his various characters' voices and accents with a light but effective touch.
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